Fenugreek Side Effects on Babies: When to Stop Taking Fenugreek?


Fenugreek Side Effects on Babies: When to Stop Taking Fenugreek?

There are many supplements, herbs, and other substances that can aid in increasing lactation—including fenugreek. This herb is found primarily in Indian cuisine and has optimal health benefits. However, there have been mixed studies and reviews of this herb. Although many women claim that fenugreek may help with lactation, the results vary. Through breast milk, babies can consume fenugreek. While studies do suggest there is limited risk, everyone is different. That said, excessive amounts may cause issues to the baby’s system. Read on to find out more about fenugreek side effects on babies and when to stop taking fenugreek.

Is Fenugreek Safe for Breastfeeding?

Many nursing mothers have wondered: is fenugreek safe for breastfeeding?Fenugreek is a galactagogue, which means it’s a substance to increase lactation. Many doctors recommend it, with no prescription required. Fenugreek’s scientific name is Trigonella Foenum-graecum, stemming from the legume family. It comes from South Asia, with India being the world’s leading producer. It’s in many spicy Indian cuisines, prepared with curry powders, chutneys, and pastes. The first use of fenugreek was around 6000 B.C., with the remains of the herb found as early as 4000 BC in Iraq. The Ancient Egyptians used fenugreek for medicinal purposes, and fenugreek found its way to the Greeks and Ancient Romans, curing infections and treating fevers. Originally, fenugreek was used to induce labor and alleviate gastrointestinal issues. Today, it’s a dietary supplement to increase a mother’s breast milk supply. Several studies have been conducted, although there has been no conclusive evidence of fenugreek having adverse responses on the baby or the mother. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels fenugreek as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)In the early days of breastfeeding, fenugreek shows promise, but it may be a placebo effect. Drinking fenugreek tea may also help with extra hydration, which also may increase breast milk production. However, there may be fenugreek side effects on the baby. The fenugreek passes through to the milk and into the baby, possibly causing mild issues. Most are low risk, with some rare cases causing extreme adverse reactions. Lastly, if you are breastfeeding but also pregnant, you cannot take fenugreek. The herb may cause contractions, premature labor, or a miscarriage.

Fenugreek Side Effects on Babies

While fenugreek may have benefits, such as increased breast milk production, reduction in blood glucose levels, and cholesterol—it can also pass along to the baby through the breastmilk. Let’s explore the fenugreek side effects on babies.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the most common side effect after consuming large amounts of fenugreek. Loose stools may occur, resulting in more diaper changes, an irritable baby, and more worry. Dehydration may occur if diarrhea continues, which is why it’s essential to stop taking fenugreek if diarrhea becomes a constant issue. Fenugreek is from the legume plant family, and any excessive amount of legumes can also cause diarrhea. While it’s healthy for the baby the gain weight as a result of fenugreek as milk production increases, diarrhea is a sign the herb may irritate the baby. Diarrhea can also affect the mother, which may be an early sign. It can affect the baby as well directly through breast milk. If the mother experiences diarrhea taking fenugreek, it may be recommended to stop taking it to prevent the baby from experiencing diarrhea.

If the baby experiences diarrhea and the notable loose, green stools, consider the following:

  • Dehydration signs: Common symptoms of dehydration include no tears while crying, dry mouth, fast heartbeat, no wet diapers for 3 to 4 hours or more, sunken eyes and cheeks
  • Rehydrate: OTC products or electrolytes such as Pedialyte and CeraLyte may help with the baby’s potassium and salt intake
  • Avoid sugary liquids and foods: Sports drinks, cookies, cakes, sodas, orange juice are not recommended to relieve diarrhea in babies; Avoid home remedies.
  • When to see a doctor: Blood in stools, diarrhea for more than 24 hours, high fever

Asthma Symptoms May Worsen

For some, the fennel seed may cause an allergic reaction, as it’s from the legume family. If you have a history of allergies pertaining to other legume seeds, it is not recommended to take fenugreek. The baby may also experience a reaction, resulting in coughing, sneezing, face swelling, or any other effects similar to a severe allergic response. Historically, fenugreek was used to treat mild asthma, although everyone is different. Fenugreek tea may not cause asthma symptoms to worsen, but powder or seeds may result in asthma problems. Those with food allergies to peanuts and chickpeas should not ingest fenugreek, as it belongs to the same family. If your baby is having asthma symptoms or current condition worsening, some valuable tips include:

  • Examine family history: If you or close family members have a history of asthma, consuming fenugreek in copious amounts may lead to asthma symptoms worsening, including the baby if they exhibit symptoms, such as fast breathing, persistent coughing, panting, and wheezing
  • Evaluate triggers: The fenugreek may or may not have triggered asthma symptoms, but another food or allergy
  • Observe breathing patterns: Notice your baby’s breathing patterns and if they change during the day or at certain times. Also, observe breathing patterns after breastfeeding or other activities.

Nausea

Fenugreek may cause nausea in the mother, which can also affect the baby. It may be difficult to tell if your child is nauseous besides excessive crying. If your baby is drowsy or unresponsive after you’ve taken fenugreek, the baby may be nauseous. Difficulty breathing or unusual breathing may also be a sign the child is not feeling well. Pale skin may be a sign your child is not reacting well to fenugreek, leading to a fit or seizure due to nausea. In extreme cases, a bulging fontanelle, a soft spot on the head, may become present. Rashes tend to occur as well, similar to an allergic reaction, but can also sign the child is feeling nauseous.

Tips to help a nauseous baby include:

  • Have the baby drink oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte or use electrolyte popsicles, anything to get the baby to consume liquids. Small amounts of water may also be helpful. Do not have the baby consume high sugar content.
  • Monitor the baby for 24 to 48 hours. Look for signs the baby may be having a hard time breathing or exhibiting signs of not feeling well. Check to see the baby’s eating habits, as a loss of appetite may signal they are nauseous
  • Assess your fenugreek dosage and if you are consuming too much or too little. Reduce your consumption intake if you feel it’s affecting the baby.

Stomach Aches, Discomfort, and Gas

Flatulence is when there is discomfort or stomach aches due to a build-up of gas. Fenugreek and gas are quite common, which the mother may also experience. If both the mother and child are experiencing flatulence, it may be time to stop taking fenugreek. Fenugreek and a gassy baby do not mix, as it may lead to more severe issues such as diarrhea. Also, excessive crying may occur. High fibrous foods or carbonated drinks cause flatulence. Fenugreek tea tends to be milder than powder or seeds. Solid versions of fenugreek may cause digestive issues, such as constipation, which leads to gas. Gas is expected in babies, including excessive gas. However, that is without fenugreek. If you already have a gassy baby and begin to have an adverse reaction to fenugreek, you must stop consuming fenugreek.

Common symptoms of a gassy baby include:

  • Excessive burping
  • Spitting up more than usual may indicate a gas build-up
  • Trouble sleeping and an extra fussy baby
  • Bloating or swollen abdomen

Tips to help your gassy baby include:

  • Stomach pressure: Help push out trapped gas by laying your baby flat and gently apply pressure to the baby’s belly 30 minutes after feeding
  • Colic carry: Have the baby rest on your forearm, with the diaper area in your hand, with the baby’s chin near your elbow. Ensure the baby’s mouth and nose is not blocked by your elbow.

Vomiting

Babies vomit all the time, but excessive vomiting may be a side effect of fenugreek. If your baby is less than two months old and continues to vomit in a 24-hour period, consider calling your healthcare provider. Vomiting may also be an additional sign the baby is nauseous. If your baby was fine before fenugreek but consumed large amounts through breastfeeding, it’s time to stop taking fenugreek. Excessive vomiting can also cause dehydration, similar to diarrhea. Your child must receive electrolytes or different fluids to keep hydrated during this challenging time. Other options are solid foods or other medications recommended by your pediatrician. A stomach rest is also an option, where you do not give them anything to eat or drink for 30 to 60 minutes.

Other tips to help a vomiting baby include:

  • Check for a fever: The baby’s vomiting may not be because of fenugreek, but another cause, such as a virus or infection. A fever can signal a stomach bug, urinary tract infection, ear infection, and more.
  • Bile: If there is a green color in the baby’s vomit, it is bile which is caused by a severe reaction or bowel obstruction
  • Projectile: Some mothers state their baby reacted to fenugreek by projectile vomiting, which can be messy. Projectile vomiting also may signal a more profound condition called pyloric stenosis, which may go undiagnosed.

Odd Maple Syrup Odor

The most distinct fenugreek side effect in babies is a maple syrup odor. It may be most present in their urine. Fenugreek contains solotone, a substance present in other sugary compounds, and it passes through the breast milk into the child. From there, sweat, urine, and other bodily fluids may oddly smell like maple syrup after excessive consumption. The smell may also blanket a rare, genetic case of Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD) found in infants. MSUD is an uncommon but severe disease that signals the baby cannot create its own protein building blocks.

While the maple syrup odor itself is not harmful, some tips to reduce or eliminate the smell include:

  • Lower your intake: Around 1.2 to 1.8 grams of fenugreek is recommended daily. If you’re drinking tea and drinking more than the normal amount, it may lead to the maple syrup odor in just 24 hours. It takes 3 to 5 days for the smell to reduce slowly.
  • Hydration: While drinking lots of water is not recommended for babies, the mother can drink more water to eliminate solotone compounds from the breast milk, which may reduce the smell in the baby as they consume fewer substances
  • Stop taking fenugreek: If there are complications taking fenugreek alongside the maple syrup odor and you do not see an increase in lactation, it may be best to stop taking fenugreek
  • Deodorize: Continually change clothes and deodorize to diminish the smell

Rare Case of Liver Toxicity

In some studies, liver toxicity was reported as nursing mothers took fenugreek alone or with other substances. Liver toxicity is rare and varies from person to person, although there is a small chance it may also happen to the baby. Using other supplements with fenugreek, such as blessed thistle, is common. Unfortunately, combining herbs in a short amount of time in an excessive amount may lead to toxicity. If there are adverse reactions to taking fenugreek with other supplements, consider taking fenugreek alone in smaller doses and monitor symptoms. If symptoms subside, additional herbs may be the issue. However, if you are taking it alone in a mild form, such as herbal tea or drinks, and problems persist, it’s time to stop taking fenugreek.

When to Stop Taking Fenugreek?

Do not take fenugreek if you are pregnant.  In rare occasions, individuals allergic to peanuts or other legumes may experience allergic or asthmatic symptoms due to fenugreek. If you have a medical condition (allergic individuals or diabetes) consult your healthcare professional prior to use.  If you are breastfeeding but are pregnant, you must not take fenugreek or any other herbs, especially together. While these substances are antioxidants with health benefits, they are not for pregnant women, as they can induce labor or cause a miscarriage. Those who take warfarin, a blood-thinning medication, may experience bleeding or other adverse side effects with fenugreek. You must consult a physician if you want to take prescription medication with fenugreek while breastfeeding. Fenugreek breastfeeding side effects for baby may become severe, such as diarrhea or vomiting leading to dehydration. Immediately stop taking fenugreek if symptoms do not subside, especially within 24 hours after ending consumption. Those with thyroid issues must also stop taking fenugreek. While there are no human studies, a rat study suggested fenugreek lowered T3 levels, exhibiting hypoglycemic effects such as low blood sugar. The ingestion of fenugreek prevented T3 synthesis in mice and rats, with another study showing changes to T3 and T4 glucose levels. Those who may have diabetes or hypoglycemia should not take fenugreek. It’s best to end ingesting the herb as it impacts blood sugar levels and insulin if you started to avoid future implications.  

Ultimately, when to stop taking fenugreek depends on how you feel after ingestion. It’s possible to reduce the amount per gram if you see positive effects to avoid excessive consumption, traveling to the baby.  

Key Takeaways About Fenugreek Breastfeeding Side Effects

Desiring to have your baby at a healthy weight encourages millions of mothers to consider galactagogues for increased lactation. However, some methods may work, but others can impact both the baby and the mother, such as fenugreek. The fenugreek seed is also much more potent than the tea, as there’s more fiber would cause more gas in the mother and child. Herbal supplements combined with fenugreek may also have additional adverse effects, such as blessed thistle. Fenugreek breastfeeding side effects for baby can be detrimental if symptoms do not subside. Luckily, stopping fenugreek for 24 to 72 hours may show promise to reduce any issues.

Overall, if you have any underlying conditions, it increases your chances of having a negative effect using fenugreek. For example, if you’re diabetic, you must watch your glucose levels closely while taking fenugreek by monitoring your fasting rate before and after meals. Nursing mothers with hypoglycemia must also be cautious taking fenugreek and other galactagogues.

A key component about fenugreek breastfeeding side effects is the consumption per gram. Some people take 2 to 3 capsules, equalling 1.2 or 1.8 grams, or 600 mg per capsule. An interesting about fenugreek capsules is that they work quickly, allowing you to experiment. For example, if you try the recommended dosage but do not see results and have no reactions, you may increase the dosage by one capsule. If you begin to see side effects to you and the baby, stop taking fenugreek. If a low dosage did not work and a higher dosage created an unwanted response, fenugreek may not be a solution right for you. If you are having a challenging time with a low milk supply, consider speaking with a lactation consultant. They may recommend another technique besides herbals to increase milk volume.

FAQs

Why Does Fenugreek Make You Smell?

Your perspiration, urine, and overall odor may smell like maple syrup. Fenugreek has a compound called sotolone that’s present in aged rums, molasses, and other similar substances. As solotone passes through the body after consuming heavy amounts of fenugreek, it will then pass along to sweat and other bodily fluids. To stop the smell, you must stop taking fenugreek or reduce your consumption intake. Continuously change clothes and deodorize if it becomes an issue. The smell itself is harmless and not all people taking fenugreek experience the maple smell.  Smell is not indicative that you are taking enough of the herb.

Will Stopping Fenugreek Decrease Milk Supply?

No, although it depends if fenugreek did help increase your milk supply. If taking fenugreek increased your lactation, it is important to remove the new breast milk supply via a pump to maintain its level.

Does Fenugreek Affect the Baby?

Yes, fenugreek affects the baby, as the herb passes through the mother, and the baby can consume fenugreek through breast milk. If the mother experiences any unwanted reactions, there may also be fenugreek side effects on the baby. In a national survey of mothers taking fenugreek, 45% stated there were side effects. Besides the maple syrup odor, they noted the baby may become gassy. There may be no side effects in some cases, with the mother seeing an increase in breastmilk. However, if any issues arise, stop taking fenugreek. Consider reducing the amount you consume if the effects are severe for the baby.

Does Fenugreek Make a Baby Gassy?

If the baby consumes too much fenugreek through milk, it may cause the baby to become gassy. Everyone reacts differently to fenugreek, but it may cause gastrointestinal issues and flatulence since it’s from legumes. If your baby does become gassy, stop taking fenugreek, as the gas may continue to add discomfort to the child or cause diarrhea. It’s also important to assess whether the gas is related to the fenugreek or the baby’s regular digestive system. Fenugreek may cause more gastrointestinal issues, leading to discomfort and ultimately a fussy baby. Check your fenugreek dosage to ensure you are not taking too much. Reduce consumption in half if you are experiencing benefits but the baby is gassy.